President and CEO Kevin McGee’s relationship to Smith Senior Living dates to his college days, when his grandmother moved into Smith Village, formerly known as the Washington and Jane Smith Home. “Even as an active senior,” he says, “she understood the central role being part of a vibrant community plays for older people. Reflecting on my visits to her leads me to believe that my grandmother’s positive experience pointed me towards a career in gerontology.”
His own early-in-life experiences inform Kevin’s resolve to preserve Smith Senior Living’s exceptional reputation for quality care and life-enhancing programs. “During our recent, ambitious growth we have steadfastly remembered everything we do is about improving lives of individuals in a meaningful way.”
An Illinois licensed nursing home administrator, McGee earned a M.B.A. in healthcare administration and graduated with honors from Saint Xavier University and magna cum laude with master’s degree in gerontology from Eastern Illinois University, where he also holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology.
“There is a lot of knowledge in these walls and I am glad the residents share their life experiences as well as their dreams with us,” says Raymond J. Marneris, Chief Financial Officer. “I am very aware we work in their home every day, and I am grateful for the opportunity to do something meaningful for them and their families.”
When he first came to Smith Senior Living, he remembers being struck by the love and caring that the staff and residents share with each other. Because Ray believes accounting is a service department within any organization, he knows it is his team’s job to provide the information that managers need to perform their duties efficiently and effectively. “That way, both residents and staff have the tools that provide the resources they need to enjoy a rich and fulfilling life.”
“I work for the residents,” says Karen Jellema, Human Resources Director. “Even if I am doing paperwork, I know that the end result makes their lives better. That keeps me motivated.” Karen not only loves her job, but also treasures the time she spends volunteering with the book club she organized for residents. “We strive to make our benefits programs for employees just right so that our employees do not have to worry about their own retirement, healthcare or even brown bagging their meals. We know that by taking care of our staff members we help stay focused on service to our residents,” adds Jellema.
You won’t find a better man with more skills than Corporate Environmental Services and Safety Director Chris August. Chris’ key priority is the safety and security of residents, staff members and the facilities. He provides peace of mind for all by supervising and regularly updating detailed safety plans for Smith Crossing and Smith Village campuses.
Having instituted enterprise-wide systems and procedures, Chris ensures the most effective and efficient use of Smith’s resources to benefit residents. He and his team also respond to residents specific requests for their homes. They take pride too in managing the care of the appearance of our campuses, including landscaping and common areas, as well as making sure all equipment and systems properly function.
To Chief Information Officer James Schmitt the best part of his job is “connecting residents with technology.” But that is only part of it. He is responsible for the implementation and maintenance of all technology solutions throughout the Smith communities. His department also provides support and training of emerging technologies for administrative staff and residents alike. Currently, he is leading the integration of Smith’s electronic medical record solution that will be shared with other health care providers to streamline the transfer of residents’ patient health information to keep Smith communities at the vanguard of service to residents.
James heads a team of IT pros, and co-founded and oversees the miSmith program, a technology support program for residents staffed by Saint Xavier University computer science interns.
Director of Clinical Operations Yahaira Ramirez RN says, “I feel privileged to know residents. They’re such intriguing people and I am proud to be their advocate.” As a nurse and Smith Village’s director of nursing for nearly 10 years before becoming Smith Senior Living’s director of clinical operations, Yahaira has her own ideas about what makes Smith communities special. “We provide care for residents as they transition through levels of living. We’re the one constant in a changing world for them and their families.”
In her new position, she leads 200 CNAs, LPNs and RNs caring for Smith Crossing and Smith Village residents. She is proud to say, “We provide very good quality care because our healthcare professionals make sure they are aware of each resident’s needs and they are skilled to provide the care they give.” For families, “It’s comforting to know we are doing a good job.” And for employees, “It’s very beneficial to watch them grow. Some CNAs return to school to become LPNs or RNs.”
Responding to the challenge of working with nurses on two campuses rather than walking the floor of only one, she says, “I believe in building relationships with my colleagues, to have a better understanding of the needs and aspirations of both staff and residents.” She adds, “I am honored to be entrusted with continually evaluating both campus to make sure we’re consistently meeting and exceeding top quality standards.
Coleen Barkmeier deftly balances her responsibilities as corporate secretary for the Board of Trustees and executive administrative assistant to CEO Kevin McGee. “This is the perfect job for me. I can combine my love of working on behalf of seniors and my skills in the hospitality industry.” Her experience in both began early in life. “My grandfather lived with us when I was young. And when I was in third grade, I remember visiting the Washington and Jane Smith Home (now Smith Village) with my Brownie Troop.”
In her teens, Barkmeier had internships at Chicago’s Department on Aging and a college-level program at Disney World, which she put to use planning activities at a South Side nursing home and later coordinating weddings and corporate events.
After raising four children and returning to the workforce, Barkmeier was attracted to Smith Senior Living because, “I have always had a special place in my heart for seniors and every day I am in awe of the time my co-workers give to their jobs.”
Shelly Genis, Volunteers Coordinator, recruits and trains a team of volunteers who have donated close to 70,000 hours of talent and time during the last seven years. She says, “Our volunteer program benefits both our residents and our volunteers because they learn from each other.” About working at Smith, she adds, “Where else can someone have an opportunity to be creative and interact with some incredible people while learning something new every day?”